I find majority of Malaysians especially the ones living in the city would like to have a child that speaks at least 2 languages, given the mother tongue is Malay so the other language would suitably be English or some bold ones try to incorporate Mandarin.
I think that’s marvelous. Children below 5 absorb like a sponge given the right attitude and environment.
I have no professional training in above mentioned field but I do believe it will improve the chances of your children as they grow older, say in enrolling to a good school or applying for scholarships or just having a healthy mix of friends.
But I am quite confuse in certain things.
I don’t grow up in a bilingual environment. My parents spoke Malay to me all my life. Mother might threw tantrum in Thai but my English World started only when I started to watch Sesame Street and cartoons and English movies on selected channels.
And that was it. I have no idea how did I began speaking English. I just do.
I noticed that children are being given mixed instructions in English and Malay.
‘Papa pergi work‘
Translation: Papa (goes to) work – English
Papa pergi (kerja) – Bahasa Melayu
Is that good? Wouldn’t they be confused? Wouldn’t it be easier to speak the whole sentence in English and then repeat it in Malay or vice versa?
I understand that maybe the parents thought that this is a genius way to present the vocabulary to the children by just replacing whatever verb or noun with selected language but I beg to differ. Your child would have a slight probability to be not good in both languages. They will not achieve an adequate level of speech or writing if they continue to be schooled in both incomplete medium.
Do you get what I’m trying to tell you?
In their head, they only have one vocabulary in each whatever language you chose, not both. Say the word ‘height’ which carries the equivalent ‘ketinggian’ in Malay and since the child has not being presented in this term then do you consider this a bilingual child? When a bilingual speaks, in his/her head the word should come both dancing merrily upon her/his frontal lobe, and exactly when he/she is referring to the word there is a muscle suppressing the right word, so that when he/she wants a Malay word for it, the muscle would suppress ‘height’ which result in ‘ketinggian’ to be uttered. This works to all language that you have inside your head. Isn’t it wonderful?
It’s like taking the brain to the gym!
I personally had met a 74 year old woman who had suffered early dementia. She was driving alone when she suddenly forgot who she was and where was she going. She suddenly was alone in a car on a busy street. She parked and cried until a good person brought her to a police station. She was located by her family members and when diagnosed she was determined not to let this disease consume her.
What did she do?
She learned Italian, French, Spanish and Arabic. She was so good at those languages that she would be able to translate Quran to the languages that she would love to hear.
She remembered. She opt not to forget when she could have given up hope and pretend that everything is o.k.
So if an old lady could do it, so can your tiny little tot whose mind is beyond your imagination. You have a clear vision for your child but please don’t let your ignorance blind you. Every child is unlimited and it’s your job to take them where they could spread their wings and fly.
They’d be brilliant!
I have learned that the most important thing to give your child are wings and roots. You know what to do.
I wish my children could grow up speaking fluent Spanish. It would hurt a lot if I failed to do so, no matter what will be my excuse.
P.S: Please smack me right on the head if I started with ‘my husband doesn’t let me talk in Spanish to them’ or ‘I’ll confuse them’ or ‘they don’t need it’.
Please, without mercy.